Fire Safety England Regulations 2022
05 January 2023
05 January 2023
On 23 January 2023, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (Regulations) will come into force. They introduce the largest number of changes to existing fire safety law in recent years by implementing the majority of the recommendations set out in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report. They are laid under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order).
The catalyst for the Regulations is the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, the consequent Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. The Inquiry published its Phase 1 report in October 2019 and made a number of recommendations (see our briefing here for further details).
The Regulations follow the commencement of the Fire Safety Act 2021 which clarifies that, for buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises of any height, the Fire Safety Order applies to the structure and external walls (including cladding, balconies and windows) and all doors between domestic premises and common parts. In practice this means that fire risk assessments need to be updated to take into account the structure, external walls and doors.
The Regulations sit alongside amendments made to the Fire Safety Order by the Building Safety Act 2022, and the Government’s updated fire safety guidance.
Like the Fire Safety Order, the Regulations impose obligations on the 'responsible person' (RP) of existing residential buildings, who is usually the owner of the common parts or the person with control over the building.
Reflecting the Phase 1 Inquiry recommendations, the Regulations mainly apply to high-rise residential buildings, defined as a building containing two or more sets of domestic premises that is at least 18 metres above ground level or has at least seven stories.
For multi-occupied residential buildings of any height with two or more sets of domestic premises with common parts, RPs will be required to:
For multi-occupied residential buildings over 11 metres in height, RPs will also be required to:
For high-rise residential buildings over 18 metres in height or with at least seven stories, RPs will also be required to:
The Regulations have broadly been welcomed as fire safety improvements, particularly in high-rise residential buildings where building standards can be more restrictive and fire-fighting tactics can be more challenging.
All RPs need to ensure that they have these requirements in place for buildings under their control. Failure to comply with the Regulations is a criminal offence under the Fire Safety Order. Building owners may need to consult with other stakeholders to satisfy their statutory duties under the Regulations.
There are also likely to be associated costs with discharging these statutory duties, such as the installation of signage and the maintenance of lifts and fire fighting equipment, the latter of which could need to be refurbished or replaced if not fit for purpose.
A notable exception to the recommendations implemented by the Regulations are evacuation plans, including Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs). The Government considered PEEPS were practically very difficult to mandate in high-rise buildings. Whilst there is a requirement to provide fire safety instructions which includes information relating to evacuation, some commentators consider this to be insufficient. A judicial review has been brought by a disability group, Claddag, which seeks to reverse the Government's decision not to implement PEEPs. It has been reported that the Government have not made a final decision on PEEPs. Meanwhile, the outcome of the judicial review is expected in early 2023.
Authors: Eleanor Reeves, Partner; Tom Duncan, Partner; Sadia McEvoy, Expertise Counsel; Elliott Kenton, Senior Associate